Ah, so we're going to explore why Elsa has magic, whilst also diving a little further into a mashup of Greco-Roman, Scandinavian, and Arctic mythologies that the first film only vaguely hinted at with some hand-waving (and trolls). Okay, I'm down, but will it work? Well... yes. It works. The sequel is good. 'Nuff said.
Honestly, I really enjoyed pretty much all of the film. I like that we dive into the backstory of Frozen, even if the "mother was magic all along" angle is pretty obvious within about five minutes of flashbacks. I also quite liked that the parents were off on a secret mission when they died, trying to find a way to control Elsa's magic more; and that Elsa's powers come from a sense of gratitude that (I guess) "nature" had towards her parents being the only two of their respective communities who did the "right thing". I even enjoyed the extremely thinly-veiled environmentalist notes and critique of fear as a major driver in "othering" of peoples. The themes aren't explored deeply, but they're present beneath the surface and it's still useful to see in kids movies.
I wasn't so thrilled by Elsa being the "fifth element". For starters, ice is just water. Secondly, she can't be the conduit between the other elements because fire beats ice. Finally, light would clearly be the obvious fifth element. And yes, I know that her and Anna combined make the fifth element, the bridge between nature and humans, yadda yadda, but I think they could have arrived at that conclusion more gracefully than they did. The whole "lost element" angle just never amounts to anything and feels like a plot MacGuffin as a result.
The sequel also suffers a little bit from "retread-itis", with Elsa once again thinking she has to go it alone, pushing people away (particularly Anna), whilst Anna continues to be pretty self-absorbed and focused on her sisterly relationship at the expense of everyone else. So we get the Sven gets left behind moment, and the Olaf is under-appreciated moment, and the Anna is surprisingly competent moment, and the Elsa is in over her head moment, all for a second time around. But the film does enough to justify most of that retreading ground, whilst the rest of the plot is such a notably different direction, that it pretty much works.
On the other hand, whilst Frozen had some surprisingly self-aware humour (and specifically was happy to poke fun at classic Disney tropes), it's sequel takes this to a whole other level. There are callbacks within callbacks, actual anti-Disney gags, and even the utterly fantastic reindeer+Sven power ballad music video montage 😂 I think these elements might catch some people off guard and could easily miss the mark if you're not aware of the wider cultural context, but personally they were brilliant.
Plus, what a neat ending. Elsa joins the magical elven people in the North; Anna takes the thrown; together they create a new interconnected world that thrives on a mutually beneficial relationship for all parties. Is it very How to Train Your Dragon? Yeah, definitely (particularly with the increased Scandinavian influence), but it's different enough to avoid most overlap and it works solidly. I had hoped for a little more character development on Elsa, but another film that is secretly all about Anna isn't the worst idea. Oh, and the elemental sprites? * Chef's kiss * I hope that the fire salamander made good use of Pixar's work on Newt, because that dude was adorable and made me really sad (again) that the original idea got canned. Maybe Frozen III will go in that route? 😁